Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale

The blurb:
Chronicling the extraordinary events for murdering a man, Bruno brings to mind some of the most memorable and enduring characters in literature -- Augie March, Ellison's Invisible Man, the indelible Alexander Portnoy, and Gunter Grass's shrieking Oskar Matzerath.  Except for one thing: Bruno is a chimp. And he can talk.

Born and raised in a habitat at the local zoo, young Bruno falls under the care of a university primatologist named Lydia Littlemore who, upon discovering the chimp's unique talent, takes him into her home to oversee his education and nurture his passion for painting. But for all of his gifts, Bruno has a rough time caging his more primal urges. His untimely outbursts ultimately cost Lydia her job, and send the unlikely pair on the road in what proves to be one of the most unforgettable journeys -- and most affecting love stories -- in recent literature.

Like its protagonist, this novel is big, loud, abrasive, witty, perverse, earnest, and amazingly accomplished. 

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore is deeply absorbing. When I first began reading, it was easy to suspend disbelief.  Implausible though the story might be, I couldn't help but believe that Bruno Littlemore was real and that these events were true.

Once you're willing to take that journey with Bruno,  his evolution from the animal living in the Lincoln Park Zoo to the educated and convincingly human individual will prove haunting.  Benjamin Hale has created an engaging and unforgettable character - his transgressions and failures make him even more disturbingly human.  For readers who love animals and are looking for something unusual - and are willing to be discomfited - I recommend The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore.

ISBN-10: 0446571571 - Hardcover $25.99
Publisher: Twelve (February 2, 2011), 592 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Benjamin Hale is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, where he received a Provost's Fellowship to complete his novel, which also went to win a Michener-Copernicus Award. He has been a night shift baker, a security guard, a trompe l'oeil painter, a pizza deliverer, a cartoonist, an illustrator, and a technical writer.  He grew up in Colorado and now lives in New York.

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